THE FORREST COOK REGATTA was a busy event for the high school Gorge Sailing Team, both in the number of races ran Saturday and the number of people from teams around the Northwest who showed up for the event. Above, Colson Zack and Pierce McAlpine (left to right, Boat 2), compete in a race.
The Gorge Sailing Team’s fourth season is underway and the team had their first of two home races this season last week with a great showing at a regatta down at the Hood River Waterfront.
Hood River Yacht Club’s (HRYC) Forrest Cook Regatta was held on March 25 to thank Forrest Cook, the Gorge Sailing Team’s largest donor to date, for his contribution to youth sailing in Hood River. The high school regatta shattered the previous record for the number of races held at a high school regatta — 14 races over a weekend — while Forrest Cook Regatta organizers pushed hard and took advantage of the longer spring days and athleticism of the sailors to squeeze in 18 races in a single day of sailing, said Lars Bergstrom, assistant coach of the team. Originally, the regatta was scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday.
“Needless to say, there were many tired sailors and volunteers on Saturday night,” he said. “The regatta also may have broken the record for the number of selfless volunteers willing to pour their weekend into making sure 120 high school athletes and their families had a good time.”
According to Andrew Nelson of The Sailing Foundation, a sailing nonprofit from Seattle, The Forrest Cook Regatta was “hands down one of the best high school regattas in recent memory. We got 18 races off in just perfect conditions on Saturday. Pushing hard, we kept racing past 7 p.m. and I docked the race committee boat with the running lights on. Great effort by the Hood River volunteers on and off the water.”
‘...the future looks bright for local sailing, with Hood River fielding more than twice as many teams as the next biggest program and many HRV boats driven by either freshmen or sophomores.’
Teams representing 12 different high schools from around the Pacific Northwest battled each other in 15-minute races on a changing course throughout the day. Hood River Boat 1A, which included the team of Audrey Becker and Leif Bergstrom, had the second-best score of any individual boat in the regatta, and combined with teammates Pelle Bergstrom and Finn Peterson in Boat B to score fourth place for Hood River with 148 points, behind Central Kitsap (97), Bainbridge (87), and first-place finisher Lincoln (73), racing for the Willamette Sailing Club.
Bergstrom was thrilled with the result.
“With the top teams in the Pacific Northwest all attending, teams that had crushed Hood River at Districts last year, this was no small feat. Bergstrom and Becker were on the team that won the 2016 Oregon State Championship last year and really showed that (Head) Coach Mallory Bozina has continued to help Hood River really step up its racing game.”
He added Becker and Bergstrom weren’t alone in their success on the Gorge Sailing Team, as every team managed top five results against the field of 25, with many outright race wins spread among the various Hood River teams.
“The last time Hood River faced the best high school sailors in the Pacific Northwest at the 2016 District Championships, HRV sailors finished in the back half of the fleet,” Bergstrom noted. “With perfect conditions at the HRYC Forrest Cook Regatta, Hood River teams took fourth, fifth, sixth, 11th, 15th, 17th and 18th out of 25 teams racing. Additionally, the future looks bright for local sailing, with Hood River fielding more than twice as many teams as the next biggest program and many HRV boats driven by either freshmen or sophomores.”
Other highlights included a “pin end port start” maneuver by Joey Slover and Blake Polewczyk in Team 4’s Boat B.
“Joey Slover, along with crew Blake Polewczyk, pulled off one of the rarest stunts in sailboat racing with a ‘Pin End Port Start.’ Entire articles have been devoted to this elusive tactic and it is very rare to see it succeed anywhere, let alone in a high school regatta,” Bergstrom explained. “To pull off this trick, Slover had to start at the perfect time, running directly against traffic and staying just ahead of the entire fleet. Any mistake on his or Polewczyk’s part would have led to at least a failed start and perhaps a head-on collision with any one of 24 oncoming competitors and a damaged boat. Instead, their sailing skills were on par with their bravery and they went on to not only succeed at this difficult approach, but handily win the race.”
The Gorge Sailing Team has a few more races this season before hosting the season-ending State Regatta May 13-14 in Hood River.
Gorge Sailing Team results:
Team 1, 4th (Boat A: Leif Bergstrom and Audrey Becker, Boat B: Pelle Bergstrom and Finn Peterson)
Team 2, 5th (Boat A: Oskar Anderson and Abby Bergeman, Boat B: Colson Zack and Pierce McAlpine)
Team 3, 6th (Boat A: Luke Serra and Ben Kaden, Boat B: Erin Sutherland and Grace Schlemmer)
Team 7, 11th (Boat A: Dylan Polewiczyk and Ivy McDonald, Boat B: Cael Price and Daisy Dolan)
Team 5, 15th (Boat A: Stella Waag and Alina Watt, Boat B: Carter Rigert and Sarah Gottschalk)
Team 6, 17th (Boat A: Ruben Baine and Emmett Becker, Boat B: Cameron Wahlstrom and Kevin Johnstone)
Team 4, 18th (Alec Matthews, Ruby McDonald, and Owen Summerset; Boat B: Joey Slover and Blake Polewczyk)